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HLWD receives project of year award

Ruth Schaefer, co-chair of the Minnesota Association of Watershed District Awards committee (left) and Jerome Deal, MAWD President (right) present HLWD Administrator Jan Voit and Manager Gary Ewert with the Project of the Year award at the MAWD annual meeting Friday. (Submitted photo)

HERON LAKE — The Heron Lake Watershed District was awarded the Minnesota Association of Watershed District’s (MAWD) Project of the Year award for its “Grassroots Effort to Bring Back Fulda Lakes” project during the MAWD annual meeting Friday at Arrowwood Resort, Alexandria.

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Each year, the association honors innovative programs and projects that have achieved project partnerships, public benefit, use of creative solutions, innovative project financing and management, project success and address a clearly defined project.

Award nominations were submitted by 11 watershed districts across the state. The HLWD was notified it was a finalist in the Project of the Year category in late August.

A detailed project description was submitted in early October. Nominations were reviewed by a committee of eight managers and staff representing watershed districts throughout the state.

The grassroots effort in Fulda began with townspeople noticing the degradation of First and Second Fulda Lakes. The HLWD applied for funds based on the needs described by landowners, and essential partnerships were established with the Department of Natural Resources, Murray County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fulda Game and Fish Club, State of Minnesota, landowners and Murray Soil and Water Conservation District. Fulda Lakes are seeing improvement as a result of collaboration that made the drawdown, reclamation and restoration projects possible.

In recognizing the HLWD for its efforts, a committee member said, “A highly successful effort to restore Fulda Lakes. This is a great example of cooperation for water quality improvement and a very cost-effective project.”

Another said, “Lake Woebegon has nothing on the citizens of Fulda; they dreamt big and now can reap the rewards of such an ambitious project.”

Three finalist projects were honored during the MAWD annual meeting. Others included the Green Line Green Infrastructure project by the Capitol Region Watershed District; and the Reach 20 Restoration by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.